Montreal restaurants often resort to creative methods to circument, defy, or test Quebec's strict language laws (collectively known as the Charter of the French Language, a.k.a. Bill 101), which, exceptions aside, stipulate that all signs must be in French. Now some of the city's food trucks are under the microscope, reports Le Journal de Montréal, after a complaint to the province's language watchdog, the Office québécois de la langue française.
At issue: English names. Whereas the likes of the now defunct Chaud Dogs made overt attempts to have bilingual fun, others, such as Le Cheese Truck, may have gone too far. "We have not been fined by the OQLF," owner Pascal Salzman told a reporter. Le Cheese Truck, which uses English almost exclusively on Facebook, may get a letter from the government agency soon, however. "Following a complaint, we will check if indeed there has been an infraction. Subsequently, we will contact the business to make a correction if necessary," affirmed OQLF flack Jean-Pierre Le Blanc. "In 98% of cases, we resolve the issue amicably."
Other Montreal food trucks may want to take heed. Le Duck Truck, for one, is on the OQLF's radar. Language cops do not appreciate a good rhyme, sadly, no matter how cute. "The truck is a commercial display and must be in French," Le Blanc told the newspaper. "It can also be accompanied by another language but French must be predominant and in the case of a company, it is the same rule. The only exception is a registered trademark. In this case, it is federal law that applies and you cannot translate it into French."
The OQLF has a notable, borderline absurdist, history with Montreal restaurants, from fines for the use of words like "pasta" and "steak" at Buonanotte and Holder to clampdowns on vintage signs with English words at the likes of Joe Beef. The latest enforcement of Bill 101 will require big-box stores like Walmart, Home Depot, and Best Buy to add a French prefix to their signs. Second Cup's solution? The coffee chain is now called Les Cafés Second Cup in Quebec.